English Flower Embroidery
Since the Middle Ages, embroidery has been produced in Europe; in both historical and contemporary times, it has been recognized as an art form (i.e. as a wall hanging), and has been applied practically (i.e. when used in upholstery). There are many different techniques that can be employed to create embroidery, each creating different textures and effects in the final product. This beautiful 17th-century piece is likely an example of “canvas work”, where the embroidery is made onto an open-weave canvas. This is visible in the wings of the dragonflies featured in this motif. It is also likely that this piece would have been made with great care and attention to detail by a woman of the upper class. In the 16th and 17th centuries, embroidery was an important part of a young girl’s education and a common pass-time for upper class adult women. It was most common for women who embroidered to commission a design they could copy, or to reference a pattern book – many of which were in circulation by the 17th century. The 17th century was also a time in which fabric, with embroidery designs printed onto it, became available for purchase – somewhat like the paint by number or embroidery kits we can purchase today. Throughout the design, particularly in areas where the different colours of the wool and silk fabric meet, different stitch sizes can be seen, creating unique raised effects in the work. This fascinating piece of history, and women’s art, is sure to make a wonderful addition to any room.
At this time in England, Issac Newton (1642–1726) published Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica in 1687, considered to be one of the most important works in the history of science. Principia Mathematica established the field of classical mechanics. Within the book, Newton formulated the laws of motion and universal gravitation, concepts that formed dominant scientific views until the theory of relativity was introduced by Albert Einstein (1879–1955). Newton himself is widely recognized as one of the greatest mathematicians and physicists of all time, being a key figure in the Enlightenment.